For decades, Russia has played a significant role in the international economic and diplomatic sphere. Russia’s current presence in Syria and its recent attempts to interfere in US elections demonstrate that Russia will continue to have a major role on the world stage.

Bernie Sanders has been consistent in supporting economic sanctions and international pressure on Russia as an alternative to direct military confrontation.

Economic and Diplomatic Pressure: To temper Russian aggression (e.g. the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula), Bernie supports freezing Russian government assets all over the world and imposing sanctions on Russia. Bernie also supports encouraging international corporations with huge investments in Russia to divest from that nation’s increasingly hostile political aims.

Work with the International Community: The United States must create a unified stance with our international allies in order to effectively address Russian aggression.

Respond To Election Interference: Russia must be held accountable for their efforts to meddle in elections in the United States.

Economic and Diplomatic Pressure

Bernie believes the United States should isolate Putin politically and economically. In March 2014, Bernie commended President Obama on sanctions levied against Russian leaders after voters in the Crimea region supported a Russian-backed referendum to secede from Ukraine. At the time, Bernie said:

“The entire world has got to stand up to Putin. We’ve got to deal with sanctions. There are a number of things that you could do. But this is what you don’t do: You don’t go to war. You don’t sacrifice lives of young people in this country as we did in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

What else has Bernie said about the use of military force against Russia?

According to Bernie, the situation with Russia is a complex one, “as is often the case with foreign policy.” In an interview with Ed Schultz, he stated that Republicans are blind to any solution to geo-political problems other than the use of military force, adding that the United States has to be tough with Russia, but there is no reason, as of yet, to resort to war. Bernie summarized his position by stating:

“I would prefer to deal with a complicated issue in a measured way: serious international discussions about how we proceed, but force, force should be the last option we use.”

Instead of rushing in and making the same mistakes we’ve made in Iraq and Afghanistan, Bernie recommends making informed decisions and working with ally nations to isolate Russia economically and politically. He believes that only after all peaceful and diplomatic efforts have been exhausted should we consider war.

What did Bernie think about President Obama’s response to Russian aggression?

Bernie publicly supported President Obama’s strategy of dealing with Russia.

What does Bernie think about President Trump’s response to Russia?

Bernie has been very critical of how Trump has responded to Vladimir Putin and Russian aggression. At a rally in Kansas in 2018, Bernie criticized Trump for his border policy and being weak against Putin by saying, “We say to Trump, instead of showing us your strength by tearing children from their families, where was your strength in standing up to Putin and Russia for undermining American democracy?”

Bernie strongly criticized Trump for recklessly revealing classified information to the Russian government during a meeting at the Oval Office.

What else has Bernie said about Vladimir Putin?

At a Democratic debate in 2016, Bernie stated that he was worried about Putin and his “military adventurism” in Ukraine and the Crimean Peninsula.

Bernie has repeatedly denounced Vladimir Putin. He referred to Putin as an “anti-democratic authoritarian” who denies climate change.

How has Bernie voted on Russia sanctions?

Bernie supported S.284 — Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, better known as the 2015 Magnitsky Act. The 2015 Magnitsky aimed to improve upon the 2012 Magnitsky, a bill designed to sanction Russian officials involved in the death of Sergei Magnitsky. S.284 passed the Senate with unanimous consent.

Bernie supported proposed sanctions against Russia in 2017, but voted against the bill because it included sanctions against Iran, which threatened the Iran Nuclear Agreement.

In 2019, Bernie cast a procedural vote in favor of sanctions against Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch linked to Rusal and a close ally of Vladimir Putin. The sanctions were part of the U.S. response to Russian meddling in the 2016 elections.

What Has Bernie said about Trump pulling out of the INF Treaty?

The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty was an arms control agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union. The treaty was ratified in June of 1988.

The INF Treaty aimed to eliminate a variety of missile and missile launchers owned by the United States and the Soviet Union. The Treaty led to the successful destruction of thousands of weapons owned by the two nations.

The Trump Administration suspended the INF Treaty on February 1, 2019, citing violations by the Russians. The following day, Russia did the same.

Many fear that the suspension of this treaty could lead to nuclear arms race between the United States and Russia. In response, Bernie joined many of his Democratic colleagues in the Senate by supporting a bill to help prevent a nuclear arms race with Russia following Trump’s decision to pull INF Treaty.

Work with the International Community

Bernie believes that in order to stand strong against Russian aggression, we must cooperate with our international allies. We must have the support of the United Nations and the European Union when it comes to our adversaries, especially with Russia. Bernie also believes that by cooperating with ally nations, we can reduce military spending and casualties.

What has Bernie said supporting this position?

During a 2016 Democratic primary debate on PBS, Bernie said, “We have to work with NATO to protect Eastern Europe against any kind of Russian aggression.”

Bernie believes the exorbitant costs associated with military intervention would be better applied to improving the living conditions in the United States. Bernie explained his support in a FOX News interview:

“Well, the issue, again, is, right now, the United States alone spends almost as much money… on defense as the rest of the world… We don’t have enough money to take care of our veterans. Our infrastructure is crumbling. Kids can’t afford to go to college. So, what we have got to do is work with the entire global economy and all the countries around the world.”

But why should we reduce our military presence abroad?

Compared with the rest of the world, the United States maintains the largest number of military bases in foreign countries and has significantly increased the number of soldiers posted internationally.

But as he told FOX News’ Bill O’Reilly, Bernie isn’t afraid to resort to military force if absolutely necessary, though it is far preferable to do so with the support of the international community: “What we have learned is that we don’t repeat what happened in Iraq and Afghanistan, where the United States virtually did it alone.”

Respond To Election Interference

What has Bernie said about Russian interference in the 2016 elections?

In 2017, Bernie urged members of the Senate intelligence committee to thoroughly investigate the relationship between Trump and the Russian government.

In a February 2018 interview on VPR, Bernie said, “It is now clear to everyone that agents of the Russian government were, in a disgusting and dangerous manner, actively interfering in the 2016 election in an effort to defeat Secretary Hillary Clinton.”

Bernie also stated during the interview that Russia “deserves unconditional condemnation” for their efforts to interfere with the 2016 elections.

Bernie introduced a Resolution in 2018 that would have forced “members of the Senate to go on the record in accepting the assessment of the U.S. intelligence community that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election and the looming threat of Russian interference in this year’s midterm elections.”

Bernie has been very critical of Trump’s response to Russian intervention in 2016. When Trump rebuked US intelligence reports that Russia interfered, Bernie called it a bad day for people in the United States and all over the world who believe in democracy and who are trying to understand what world our idiot president lives in.”